‘September 2015’

Looking ahead to a busy fall – Association priorities and activities

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Looking ahead to a busy fall – Association priorities and activities | Filed in President's Message, September 2015

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

As the 2015-16 academic year begins, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all of our new colleagues. While the summer months are generally filled with all manner of scholarly activity and preparation for classes, I hope everyone, new and returning, had a chance to spend some restorative and energizing time; time away from the multiple and increasing demands of academic employment.

Here’s a brief overview of the coming year, beginning with items internal to the university, and then moving to the provincial and national scenes. The assessment process and tenure and promotion process are both currently underway. As most of you will know, these were conducted together in the past, but were recently separated into two distinct processes. The process for tenure and promotion is now included in the Collective Agreement, with the process for assessment still continuing under old rules while bargaining of an improved process continues. This recent change may still provide some confusion, and we are working hard to make sure things proceed as smoothly as possible and to avoid anyone being disadvantaged by the recent changes. This requires a great deal of Association time and effort to answer individual inquiries and provide representatives to sit on all of the various committees in all Faculties. More information about assessment can be found here: http://www.tucfa.com/?p=3949. The tenure and promotion agreement can be found here: http://www.tucfa.com/?page_id=111.

Bargaining of the assessment process is scheduled to continue this year. It is everyone’s fervent hope that this can be concluded soon. The work of the Agreement Review Committee (ARC) is also expected to move forward. This is a committee jointly appointed by the Board of Governors (BofG) and Faculty Association (FA), which is designed to meet regularly to review and discuss possible changes to the Collective Agreement. Based on those discussions, the committee brings recommendations to the BofG and FA for consideration during bargaining. We expect to begin bargaining a new Collective Agreement with the Board of Governors fairly soon, as our current agreement expires on June 30, 2016. You will hear more from our Principal Negotiator, Eileen Lohka, on all bargaining issues.

In past years, the Association has participated in Fair Employment Week together with our national organization, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and faculty associations across the country. Member associations organized events on campus to raise awareness about issues confronting sessionals. This year, CAUT has invited member associations to focus our energy on one day, Fair Employment Day, to coincide with World Day for Decent Work, on October 7, 2015. In a campaign to highlight Contract Academic Staff issues, CAUT is inviting sessionals to submit images – selfies, pictures, creative images or videos – that illustrate life as an academic on contract. These images can be sent to johnson AT caut.ca no later than October 7, 2015, 5 p.m. EDT. A selection of the best images will be posted on the CAUT website and Facebook page. For more information: www.fairemploymentweek.ca.

Our Association will mark Fair Employment Day by continuing our practice of awarding travel grants to Sessional Instructors, who remain ineligible to apply for University travel funding. More information regarding applications for this funding will be available shortly.

The Association will be honouring one of our members with a Community Service Award. I strongly urge you to consider making a nomination for this award. The deadline for nominations is October 23, 2015. For more information:http://www.tucfa.com/?p=3951.

On the provincial front, you have until September 14 to provide our new Government with feedback and comments regarding the provincial budget: http://alberta.ca/budget.cfm. The deadline is a bit short, but I encourage as many of you as possible to participate in this process. As academics we definitely have specific budgetary concerns that should be included in the Government’s deliberations and decisions.

And finally, another call to make your voices heard, this time on the national scene. Federal government policies clearly have an impact on many aspects of our work as academics, but especially on what funding is available for what kinds of research. For more information about how federal politics matter to us as academics, please read: http://www.tucfa.com/?p=3947.

Two per cent salary increase for ongoing and sessional academics

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Two per cent salary increase for ongoing and sessional academics | Filed in September 2015

For those ongoing academic staff employed as of June 30, 2015, an across-the-board increase of two per cent to salary was applied on July 1, 2015. All sessional members received a two per cent increase in salary above their previous contracted rate. In addition to changes to individual salaries, salary scales for ongoing academics and salary minimums for sessionals were increased by two per cent. We suggest that all members review their information to ensure this change is reflected in their pay. A link to the updated salary scales can be found here: http://www.tucfa.com/?page_id=111.

Changes to Article 8: Harassment were also part of the current Collective Agreement. Updated language for Article 8 can be found here: http://www.tucfa.com/?page_id=111.

The current Collective Agreement was ratified for a one-year term and expires on June 30, 2016.

Merit and the assessment process

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Merit and the assessment process | Filed in September 2015

The assessment process is in full swing this fall meaning ongoing academic staff are receiving notification of what their Head is recommending their merit increment will be. But what a merit increment represents and how it is related to a faculty member’s every day work performance is often misinterpreted.

(Note that with the changes to the tenure and promotion process the title Faculty Promotions Committee (FPC) and Faculty Merit Committee (FMC) are being used interchangeably. Similarly General Promotions Committee (GPC) and General Merit Committee (GMC) mean the same committee for the purpose of assessment.)

The merit pool is established based on 1.2 increments per full-time equivalent academic staff member in the Faculty, and the Deans must fully distribute the entire increment allocation to academic staff in their respective Faculty or unit. This means that the arithmetic average for merit increments is 1.2. (As an aside, the Deans often hold back a small number of increments to deal with appeals and FPC/FMC discussions, so the amounts given to the Heads may not equal 1.2 per member.) However, receiving the arithmetic average increment does not necessarily reflect that “average” work has been performed.

If an academic staff member decides to appeal his or her assessed increment or language it is important to remember that this can only be appealed at GPC/GMC if it was first appealed at the FPC/FMC level, or if the FPC/FMC changed the increment amount. Also, the Department Head (or equivalent) is required to provide the appellant a copy of the assessment, including the merit increment and then allow for an opportunity to meet. Any assessed increment amount or language can be appealed to the FPC/FMC.

The Assessment process is currently an item of negotiation between the Faculty Association and the Governors.

For more information please consult the Appointment Promotion and Tenure (APT) Manual and Faculty Guidelines. If you require further information or assistance please do not hesitate to contact our office by email, faculty.association AT tucfa.com, or by phone, (403) 220-5722. It is important to remember that the tenure and promotion processes are now included as part of the Collective Agreement so most references to these processes in the APT manual are out of date. If you are looking for information on tenure and promotion please refer to the Tenure and Promotion Agreement available here: www.tucfa.com/?page_id=111.

(Note that references to “Head” above means the person who prepares the initial assessment of your performance report – it could be an Associate Dean, area chair, or some other individual. The above answers are the Faculty Association’s interpretation of how the process works based on our reading of the rules and the precedents established over the years.)

Seeking an inspiring academic for Community Service Award

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Seeking an inspiring academic for Community Service Award | Filed in September 2015

The campus community is invited to make nominations for the Faculty Association Inspired Service Award – Community Service. [Deadline Extended: November 16, 2015].

The Community Service Award recognizes a member of the Faculty Association of the University of Calgary who has provided exceptional service to the community and has gone above and beyond the requirements of the person’s position. This person has thus made an outstanding contribution of personal time and effort for the benefit of others.

Special emphasis will be placed on those service activities that involve outreach to the community beyond the University and activities that go beyond the regular duties of the academic staff member. In this context, service may include volunteer work, as well as educational outreach or the application of research and other scholarly activities in the community.

A nomination form and list of past recipients can be found here: http://www.tucfa.com/?page_id=128.

Get this election right

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Get this election right | Filed in September 2015

The federal election campaign is already well under way, and the marathon will last until October 19. To help you get up to speed on crucial issues like the future of science and research in Canada, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) invites you to get all the information you need on its website here: GetScienceRight.ca.

The CAUT is asking the federal government to:

  • Restore the level of investment in Research and Development (R&D) to what was spent a decade ago to remain competitive with other developed countries. We would need to spend at least $2.5 billion of new R&D money in 2015/16 to match 2006 R&D spending in Canada.
  • Re-invest in discovery-driven research and substantially increase the base funding of the three federal research granting councils (SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR). Strong public investment in discovery-driven research will create social and economic benefits for everyone.
  • Review its science policy based on the principle that research funding decisions should be free from political or industry influence. Scientists and researchers, not CEOs and politicians, should decide who gets research funding. The federal government should create a Parliamentary Science Officer (PSO), an independent officer of the Library of Parliament who would report to the Senate and House of Commons. The PSO would provide independent advice and analysis to Parliament about the adequacy and effectiveness of the nation’s scientific policies, priorities, and funding. Canadians and their elected representatives need unbiased and non-partisan advice on science policy.
  • Re-invest in its own research programs to provide the public with reliable and independent scientific knowledge and advice, and reinstate the long form Census. Canadians face major challenges that require sound scientific solutions including those related to climate change, energy demand, public health, and drug safety. Government departments and agencies, such as Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Statistics Canada and the National Research Council (NRC) have a vital role to play in confronting these challenges, but can only do so when they are adequately funded and free to pursue their work.
  • Serve the public interest through allowing government scientists to publicly speak freely about their findings. A major survey of federal government scientists commissioned by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) found that:
    • 90% feel they are not allowed to speak freely to the media about the work they do;
    • Faced with a departmental decision that could harm public health, safety or the environment, about 86% would face censure or retaliation for doing so;
    • The survey found that nearly three out of every four federal scientists (74%) believe the sharing of scientific findings has become too restricted in the past five years;
    • Nearly the same number (71%) believes political interference has compromised Canada’s ability to develop policy, law and programs based on scientific evidence.

Some things never change

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Some things never change | Filed in September 2015

The Colleges and the Professors

Note: The following is an excerpt from “The Colleges and the Professors” Editorial from The Nation, published June 23, 1881.

(Boards of Governors/Regents) cannot see why a professor’s salary should be any higher than is necessary to get you a professor, and, having got a professor at their own figure, they despise him for taking so little. Having got him for less than they have paid their bookkeepers, they credit him with a bookkeeper’s capacity -that is, with ability to perform faithfully a certain round of rather humble duties, which will fulfill the object for which the buildings were erected and keep the machinery in motion. In fact, the professor, in their eyes, is rather a man who “tends” college, as a hand ‘‘tends” a loom in a mill, than a person fit to govern, or direct, or manage an institution of any kind.

This view of the professorial calling, though very prominent in some American universities, to a certain extent colors the government of them all. It is the natural result of the dominance in all affairs of the commercial spirit. It is, in other words, “the business man’s view”; the business man being the greatest force in American society, the idea that he who has made $100,000 a year, and can any day make $10,000, should yield his opinion on any question of administration to a man who acknowledges that $2,500 or $3,000 a year is as much as he can earn, strikes him as a little absurd. The college to him is a sort of industrial enterprise, turning out scholars just as a mill turns out yarns, and the professors are part of the “plant.” He thinks he has to be looked after and kept up to his work like other “hands” by some outside system of inspection. The idea of letting professors have a college to themselves, to manage it as they please, without Trustees or overseers of some kind, has a grotesque air to him, a little like the idea of trusting a lot of clerks to carry on his own business. He does not know exactly what they would do with the college if they got hold of it, but something very queer, he feels sure, because not only are they poor hands at making money, but they are dreamy, eccentric people, who are capable of any kind of folly outside their studies. He wishes very much, indeed, that a college could be carried on without professors, and has a vague notion that by some sort of improvement in organization this result may some day be attained.


This excerpt was recently posted by the Campaign to Support Contract Academic Staff at Western University via 100 Days @ Western: The Alternative Listening Tour (noahconfidenze.tumblr.com).